Jonathan Toomey, Executive Producer, Content & Production, NAB Show
Pat Grosswendt, Co-Founder, Senior Sales Specialist, Litepanels
Stefan Karle, Managing Director and Owner, DoP Choice
Jakob Ballinger, Gaffer and Founder, The Light Bridge
James DeRuvo, Editor-in-Chief, doddleNEWS
Larry Jordan: Tonight on the Buzz, our NAB Insight highlights; free educational opportunities at the upcoming NAB Show. Then, we look at lighting and lighting gear; including new techniques that harken back to how the Ancient Egyptians used light.
Larry Jordan: We start with Jonathan Toomey; he’s the Executive Producer for Content and Production for the NAB Show. He oversees their main stage keynotes and floor theater programs. Tonight, he showcases highlights of these free presentations and what they see as significant emerging industry trends.
Larry Jordan: Next, Pat Grosswendt, Co-Founder of Litepanels; shares his thoughts on lighting technology and how to pick the right lighting gear for your next project.
Larry Jordan: Next, Stefan Karle, Managing Director of DoP Choice, explains the tools you need to shape light; so you get light where you need it and hide it where you don’t. Plus, he talks about the challenges of low level lighting.
Larry Jordan: Next, Jakob Ballinger, Founder of The Light Bridge, explains why they looked at how nature lights a scene, to develop the new technology in The Light Bridge and what they discovered, took them back to the Ancient Egyptians.
Larry Jordan: All this, plus James DeRuvo with our weekly doddleNEWS update. The Buzz starts now.
Male Voiceover: Since the dawn of digital filmmaking. Authoritative: One show serves a worldwide network of media professionals. Current: Uniting industry experts. Production: Filmmakers. Post-production: And content creators around the planet. Distribution: From the media capital of the world; in Los Angeles, California, the Digital Production Buzz goes live now.
Larry Jordan: Welcome to the Digital Production Buzz; the world’s longest running podcast for the creative content industry; covering media production, post-production and marketing around the world. Hello, my name is Larry Jordan.
Larry Jordan: I’ve been going to the NAB Show for decades, but I didn’t learn until this week, that I’ve missed a lot. What I didn’t realize was that the show creates a wide variety of pavilions and keynotes, directly accessible from the show floor, that are totally free and explore emerging industry trends. In fact, the floor theater’s group panel discussions, with related exhibitors; so that you can learn in-depth about a single subject, without a lot of walking around.
Larry Jordan: As you’ll learn in just a few minutes, from Jonathan Toomey, this year’s show has some exciting and free opportunities to learn about some very new technology. Also, we thought it would be appropriate for an audio podcast, to talk about lighting; so the second half of tonight’s show sheds some more light on lighting.
Larry Jordan: By the way, if you enjoy the Buzz, please give us a positive rating and review in the iTunes store. We appreciate your support, to help us grow our audience.
Larry Jordan: Now it’s time for our weekly doddleNEWS update with James DeRuvo. Hello James, welcome back.
James DeRuvo: Happy Hearts Day Larry.
Larry Jordan: A very happy Valentine’s Day to you as well. What have we got for news this week?
James DeRuvo: Canon announced, late last night, the Canon EOS RP Mirrorless camera, which the rumor mill had been talking about for a couple of days; so I guess, Canon just decided, well, everybody knows, so we might as well do it. At 485 grams, or just over a pound, it is the lightest full frame mirrorless camera that Canon has ever made. It has a 26.2 megapixel CMOS sensor; which is only slightly smaller than the EOS R mirrorless camera. Outputs 8-bit, 422, 4K and only 24p. But sadly, there is no Canon RAW. But it’s only going to be $1299 for the body. It’ll take RF and EF lenses with an adaptor.
Larry Jordan: Where does this camera fit in our line-up?
James DeRuvo: For those looking for a budget entry level full frame mirrorless camera, I don’t think you can go that badly with the EOS RP. It’s a third of the price of the EOS R and has almost as high a resolution. Sure you can’t shoot in Canon RAW, but that’s what we have Magic Lantern for. Am I right?
Larry Jordan: Exactly correct. Magic Lantern is, well, magical. What’s your second story this week?
James DeRuvo: The FAA has made a rule change and will now mandate all drones that have visible registration numbers on the fuselage of their drones. The registration numbers must now be visible on the fuselage of any drone from 0.55 to 55 pounds and not inside the battery compartment; which was, you could either have the option of displaying it outside, or putting it inside the battery compartment, where it’s not visible. This addresses the concerns that First Responders had opening up a potentially booby trapped compartment on a captured drone; in order to ascertain the drone number and finding the drone operator.
James DeRuvo: Drone operators have ten days to comply, before facing penalties and there is no public commentary period; because they consider it a national security issue.
Larry Jordan: This regulation seems to make a great deal of sense to me; but why now?
James DeRuvo: I think it absolutely does and the new regulation is now in place in response to the Gatwick incident in Great Britain; where a commercial airliner was allegedly struck by a drone on final approach to the Gatwick Airport. But it was originally planned to be implemented in 2016; before a lawsuit challenging the authorities of the FAA to make the rules happen. But Congress has now made it the law of the land officially and, frankly, I’m okay with the new regulation.
James DeRuvo: All aircraft are required to have tail numbers for easy identification by a control tower and this is merely a commonsense extension to that. The FAA is also considering mandating a radio broadcast of registration information, that can be picked up electronically by authorities; but that’s not happening yet. I’m okay with that too, it makes total sense.
Larry Jordan: Alright, we’ve covered cameras and drones, what do you have with software this week?
James DeRuvo: Digital Anarchy has put out an email to all users of Transcriptive; the plug-in that makes transcripts for your video projects. There is apparently a bug that causes a memory leak that will crash Premiere with projects over 60 minutes in length, or 12,000 words in the transcript; potentially damaging your project files.
James DeRuvo: Digital Anarchy recommends downgrading to Premiere Pro CC 2018 until Adobe and Digital Anarchy push out a fix and they can rework how Transcriptive writes the metadata. Apparently, it takes up a lot of space. Users can also use the beta at transcriptive.com to get their work done as well.
Larry Jordan: I think this is an important story, but why did it make the highlights?
James DeRuvo: Well, it made the highlights, one, because it’s slow news week. But the other reason is, is because, what I like is that Digital Anarchy isn’t playing hide ‘n’ seek with their problems. They want their users to be aware of it and are offering concrete steps to work around it until they push out a fix. But they warn, it could take time, as they don’t want to break something else trying to fix this problem.
Larry Jordan: Okay, we’ve covered software, drones and cameras, what other stories are you covering this week?
James DeRuvo: Other stories we’re following include, tips on how to keep your camera clean and in top shape; the best things to look out for, when buying used camera gear, so you don’t get ripped off and YouTube is testing a new feature that will give beginning content creators some exposure. That’s it for us. What’s up tonight with the Buzz?
Larry Jordan: We’ve got two things. We’ve got a brand new NAB Insight and then we’re devoting the rest of the show to lighting. James, where can we go on the web to learn more about the stories you and your team are covering?
James DeRuvo: All these stories and more can be found at doddlenews.com.
Larry Jordan: James DeRuvo is the Editor-in-Chief of doddleNEWS and joins us every week and by the way, James, you should hang around for our next guest; because, as you know, the 2019 NAB Show is less than eight weeks away.
James DeRuvo: I know, it’s so fast.
Larry Jordan: NAB Insight is a new Buzz segment, which takes us behind the scenes of the show; to give us a heads up on what to expect.
James DeRuvo: You know, last week’s episode was fantastic; that first NAB Insight. I really loved it; so I’m looking forward to tonight.
Larry Jordan: Well our next guest on NAB Insight is Jonathan Toomey. He’s the Executive Producer for Content and Production of the 2019 NAB Show and James, wait till you hear what he has to say.
James DeRuvo: I look forward to it.
Larry Jordan: Jonathan Toomey oversees the content for the main stage keynotes and floor theaters; as well as contributing to the overall marketing strategy for the show. Hello Jonathan, welcome.
Jonathan Toomey: Hello Larry, how you doing?
Larry Jordan: How did you ever convince the NAB Show that they needed an Executive Producer?
Jonathan Toomey: Well I actually previously worked for NAB for about a year; overseeing content and education. I left for a couple of years to run marketing for another conference production company and I had the great opportunity to come back this year and I helped reinvent our floor theater program and helped to reinvigorate our main stage keynotes.
Larry Jordan: I want to talk about both of those; but let’s take a step back to a higher level. What themes are you emphasizing this year?
Jonathan Toomey: We’re taking, kind of, a real high level approach in terms of themes this year. You know, in the past, NAB has featured different variations of our floor theater program and this year, I think our topics are really relevant for the broadcast industry and the overall ecosystem, as far as content delivery, distribution and creation. We’ve got theaters on topics like advanced advertising, eSports, connected vehicles and the in-vehicle experience, 5G and AI in Cloud; so they’re really top of mind and big topics that are thing are a nice connection to this world.
Larry Jordan: You keep mentioning this term floor theaters; what the difference between a keynote and a floor theater?
Jonathan Toomey: Across our exhibition floor, we have a number of free educational theaters that are part of our exhibit’s past tickets. You enter the floor and you’ll see these different pavilions; focused on exhibitors and education within those topics. Using 5G as an example, we’ve got our Destination 5G theater and pavilion; so you’ll see a number of exhibitors that are all in the 5G ecosystem, as well as a dedicated theater that will feature four days of content that is focused on 5G.
Larry Jordan: Who can attend these floor theaters?
Jonathan Toomey: Anyone is able to attend the floor theater with our exhibits pass; so you don’t need an expensive ticket to get in and enjoy these really robust sessions.
Larry Jordan: When do you move something from a floor theater to a keynote? What are your criteria for setting keynotes?
Jonathan Toomey: Typically for keynotes, obviously, you know, in some cases there can be a celebrity factor; in other cases, if we feel it’s a discussion that is truly pertinent to this world; something that we want to shine an extra light on, that’s when we’ll take consideration to move it to the keynote stage.
Jonathan Toomey: One of our big ones this year, in conjunction with the fact that we’re doing a Connected Car pavilion on the floor, we’re also going to feature a Connected Car keynote. When you consider the fact that 5G and ATSC 3.0 signals and all this different technology is going to start getting rolled into vehicles, as they become truly driverless, you’re going to wonder, you know, what’s the passenger going to do? They’re going to sit there and they’re going to consume more content and, for the world of the NAB audience, that’s a big deal. We’re on the cusp of that becoming more and more and more of a reality.
Jonathan Toomey: When we see these topics that make us kind of say, you know, this is going to become a much, much bigger deal, that’s when we make the choice to elevate it to the main stage.
Larry Jordan: Clearly, the NAB needs to spot a need that can be served with a keynote and the NAB Show invites someone to speak. Do you have input on their content of the presentation?
Jonathan Toomey: Yes, so I’m overseeing building all the main stage keynotes, you know, as far as sourcing speakers; interviewing speakers; you know, building moderators; working with our overall association team, to help build some of their stuff, like the opening session. There’s lots of different pieces that make up our keynote stage, over the three days; because it does run Monday through Wednesday during the show.
Larry Jordan: The keynotes are available to whom?
Jonathan Toomey: The keynotes are also on the floor; so those are open to everyone. That’s part of the exhibits pass ticket.
Larry Jordan: Then, what part are we paying extra for?
Jonathan Toomey: We have a number of additional paid for conferences; so those are separate programs that you would buy an upgraded, or a premium ticket to get into; such as our Streaming Summit, for example.
Larry Jordan: Given the vast size of the show and one of the things I enjoy the most about the NAB Show is, it’s just overwhelmingly big, what advice do you have for attendees who are trying to plan their day? Where should they even start?
Jonathan Toomey: I’ll speak to my own experience. You know, I’ve been to NAB a number of times now and, honestly, this is advice I would give for any big trade show, there’s something to be said about going in for that first day and just taking in the floor. The different exhibitors, all the different gadgetry and technology you’ll see. Just wandering around and absorbing all that; because you can get lost in it and enjoy a full day of just seeing something new, after something new, after something new. I think there’s a lot to be said about that; just really taking in the floor.
Jonathan Toomey: If education is your thing though, that’s what’s the great thing about this, because these floor theaters are on the floor and because they’re part of that free exhibits pass ticket. You know, you can walk in and experience all the stuff and you can immerse yourself in a topic that you’re really passionate about and just see great session, after great session all day long.
Larry Jordan: You’re in charge of booking the content for the show and you’ve established that you’ve got a number of different themes you’re working with. What’s the one that’s got the most sparkle for you? What one are you most excited about; both at the floor theaters and for the keynotes?
Jonathan Toomey: I think, overall, I’m most excited about our eSports experience. You know, in the past, we’ve featured eSports sessions; we’ve never had a full dedicated pavilion and theater to it. It’s interesting, when you think of all the different technology implementers and providers and a lot of the historic companies that are our bread and butter exhibitors, this is, in many ways, kind of a new space for them. I think, figuring out, what does the back end of this eSports delivery experience look like? How is the viewer at home watching a videogame tournament? What are the different considerations, technologically, that go into that? That’s a really interesting piece of the puzzle that I think we’re going to unlock at our eSports experience theater this year.
Jonathan Toomey: You know, we’ll still have some of the traditional stuff that I think you’d expect in terms of eSports. We’re going to have a gaming area, we’ll have players actually gaming on the floor; so people can come and experience that. But this kind of behind the scenes story is, how do all these things get plugged together? That’s a real interesting thing, I think, both for the attendees and the exhibitors of NAB Show.
Larry Jordan: Jonathan, as I listen to your description of the floor theaters and the keynotes and the vast range of information you’re covering, how does that relate to production and post?
Jonathan Toomey: Well, you know, it’s interesting Larry. Across these floor theaters, like I said earlier, advanced advertising; eSports; in-vehicle experience; 5G, at first blush you might not think that there’s a big production and content creator angle here and those types of folks, they’re the bread and butter of the NAB audience; those are the folks that we want to provide content, education and great exhibition experiences for. But when you look at the content we have across these theaters, you know, we’ve got stuff on immersive advertising and VR; blurring the lines between film, television and games in our eSports experience.
Jonathan Toomey: When you think of in-vehicle content consumption and what the production of that content going into a vehicle looks like, we’ve got sessions on 5G and VR experiences; AI and how it’s impacting mixed reality. There’s so many different angles in here, across these theaters, that I think the content creator and the production community is going to find it really robust and interesting.
Larry Jordan: There’s a lot of anxiety about whether media is still an industry where we can earn a reasonable living. What are your thoughts on the future of media; not from a consumption point of view, which is exploding, but from a earning a living, business point of view?
Jonathan Toomey: Consider the fact of where we were, you know, maybe ten years ago; give or take and think of all the technology that was just starting to unravel. 4G, 4K TVs, all these things that felt really exciting and you felt like you were on the precipice of things changing. It feels like we’re there again, in a lot of ways. There’s so many different things that are evolving and I think, that’s where opportunity comes.
Jonathan Toomey: The idea that, you know, it can be tough in this industry right now to make a living, I think there’s so much opportunity on the horizon, in terms of new technology that’s unfolding, that’s it’s going to be a really exciting time ahead of us.
Larry Jordan: For people that want to learn more about the opportunities available for keynotes and floor theaters and just the show in general, where can we go on the web to learn more about this year’s NAB Show?
Jonathan Toomey: You can just check out www.nabshow.com and all the details are there.
Larry Jordan: That’s all one word, nabshow.com and Jonathan Toomey is the Executive Producer for Content and Production at the 2019 NAB Show and, Jonathan, thanks for joining us today.
Jonathan Toomey: Thank you very much Larry.
Larry Jordan: Here’s another website I want to introduce you to, doddlenews.com. DoddleNEWS gives you a portal into the broadcast, video and film industries. It’s a leading online resource, presenting news; reviews and products for the film and video industry. DoddleNEWS also offers a resource guide and crew management platform, specifically designed for production. These digital call sheets; along with their app; directory and premium listings provide in-depth organizational tools for busy production professionals.
Larry Jordan: DoddleNEWS is a part of the Thalo Arts community; a worldwide community of artists, filmmakers and storytellers. From photography, to filmmaking; performing arts, to fine arts and everything in between, Thalo is filled with the resources you need to succeed.
Larry Jordan: Whether you want the latest industry news, need to network with other creative professionals, or require state of the art online tools to manage your next project, there’s only one place to go, doddlenews.com.
Larry Jordan: Pat Grosswendt is a Co-Founder of Litepanels; where he now works as a Senior Sales Specialist, supporting their sales teams in the Americas, Asia Pacific and China. He’s also actively involved in new product development. Hello Pat, welcome back.
Pat Grosswendt: Hello Larry, thanks for having me.
Larry Jordan: Pat, this week we’re talking about lighting. In the past, Fresnels were the dominant lighting hardware; now we’re moving into wide and softer LED panels. How would you describe the hardware options for lighting today. Not specific products, but more styles of hardware?
Pat Grosswendt: I think it’s really exciting; especially for newcomers, as well as people who are well versed in it, with many years of experience. You know, the characteristic of lighting a lot of times depends on the style of shooting; so that could be what type of camera you’re using, if your film is a digital and also the lenses, where you’ve got these maximum increase in the ability to see more with less. I think, in terms of the olden days of lighting, where you were using a lot of Fresnels and hard light, you were basically lighting to the look and you’re having a dominant feature.
Pat Grosswendt: I don’t think the property of where the light goes changed, just the augmenting to have something soft to begin with, but put in the right direction. The versatility of being able to dim any of these lights successfully was without too much fear and color shifting is unique. Also, the fact that a lot of the lights today, that the end user’s seeing and having choices over, is something that will create a plethora of colors from one source; compared to real old days with gels, or acetates. The mechanics of it are similar in regards to placement being the dominant factor, but the ability to use a whole boutique look of lights that will give you different types of output and rendering. It’s really cool.
Larry Jordan: The strengths of LED lights, which include less heat, smaller size, soft light and variability and color are widely recognized; but what do we do if we want sharper shadows?
Pat Grosswendt: Get further back from the subject matter and give yourself a chance to cut it. But I think there’s a lot of products out on the market where you’ve got the ability to put a cone over it; to create a soft box; or to put grids, or snap grids, or various accessory items outside of the unit. Almost kind of in the style of the old lens shaders. When somebody finally came up with the flexible, where you were able to actually just kind of wing it into position and, nowadays, with a lot of the lights not emitting so much heat, you can attach things to it quickly and use it to shape lights.
Larry Jordan: I want to talk about Litepanels’ products in a minute, but before I do, what questions should we ask, as we’re determining what hardware of light to buy? In other words, what’s a really important question and what tends to be lost more in the marketing?
Pat Grosswendt: The consumer today is more educated before they make their purchase and that has to do with the fact of the internet and availability of products increasing; because so many people are constantly coming with new products to the market. The intuitive person captures something by eye that they’re interesting in, but they’ll tend to do a lot more research as they go about it. You have this nuance of this boutique market, where people will buy several different types of light, for different accentuations they’re hoping to get. Because of the latitude of the chip and the faster lenses, where you don’t have to worry so much about exposure output, just being able to manipulate a little simpler, without having to worry if you’ve flipped from 24 frames to 96, that you have the latitude to increase it and have that depth of field and high speed you need.
Pat Grosswendt: I think the other thing that’s really helpful is, marketplaces such as yourself that put a product out, that people can listen to and use that information from different guests, to talk about, what it is that makes a product unique and how we, in turn, visualize being able to use it. I don’t think anybody’s found something that they couldn’t use; but it’s definitely something that people research a bit more and so marketing helps.
Pat Grosswendt: But, actually, I love FaceTime; I love it when we go to trade shows and I meet somebody, whether they’re an Executive, or a starter outer, it’s really a great time to share all the knowledge that many of us that have been in the industry a long time can. Not just with stories about themselves, but the industry changing. That’s a good part to relate to them, because it can find out that, maybe something they’re creating was seen before, but nobody remembers seeing it.
Larry Jordan: One of the things Litepanels is famous for is, really defining the market for LED lighting; so, let’s shift to Litepanels. What are you excited about?
Pat Grosswendt: I’m very excited for a nuance of a new product at NAB this year, which is in Las Vegas again. It’s a product that I think will touch a lot of people’s needs; so we’ve put a lot of thought into it, but also the time involved in making sure we have, you know, core, accurate, controllable light sources. It’s a new product, which will get a lot of buzz.
Larry Jordan: You’re going to be talking about that at NAB in a couple of months?
Pat Grosswendt: Yes, we’ll actually be showing it. We’ve had it with some key updater testers. That’s what we try and do every time we develop something; get it to some people in different marketplaces that have access to the knowledge and take their feedback and continue with maybe adjusting certain things to those requests. We’re excited about it; it’s going to be great and with the Vitec brand products that are going to accompanying us and all sorts of things.
Pat Grosswendt: Like any manufacturer, we’re excited about taking it to the show and meeting the market.
Larry Jordan: There’s a debate between whether it’s more valuable to attend CineGear or NAB. What’s your thought?
Pat Grosswendt: You know, it’s interesting Larry because, I’m traveling constantly; I just got back from London and I’m going to be heading over to Asia Pacific for two to three weeks on product training and this and that. But what I’m finding from a lot of people is, they love going to CineGear. I think some of the people actually aren’t attending NAB, because they’re a little bit more focused on what they want to see and they know they’ll see that cinematic, or that production product at CineGear; plus the fact it’s got a really relaxing atmosphere.
Pat Grosswendt: There’s not too many shows you can walk around in the sunshine; which is … California’s location and be able to have a beer and conversations with people who are likeminded. I see CineGear being a tremendous asset to the film community on a global basis and people are excited about going there.
Larry Jordan: For someone that does a lot of run and gun shooting, as opposed to cinema style, where everything is very carefully set, what Litepanels gear would you recommend as sort of a basic kit to get started?
Pat Grosswendt: Well I would recommend that people always try before they buy; so I would go to a friend that has different products of Litepanels. I’d go to a rental company, or cruise our website and see what we have.
Pat Grosswendt: I really am a firm believer in that, you wouldn’t know if it fits your needs until you’ve had a chance to try it and I welcome anybody from your listening audience, that actually has an interest in trying a product, we’ll put them together with somebody in their area, or we’ll make sure that we can try and get them something, to be able to test it. I think that for end users that are out, the notation of less is more is really important; but at the same time, being able to practice with different tools elevates your game by having the knowledge.
Pat Grosswendt: Having done it and used equipment, you have a better understanding whether you want to actually present that as an opportunity, with regards to the amount of time you or the Producer has budgeted for your creative imagery and from that experience of playing with it.
Pat Grosswendt: That’s any products, not just the Litepanel product. But I think any product you can get your hands on, rent, try, demo, will give you a better aspect of seeing what all the manufacturers have as their essential tool to fit that kit. I’d love everybody to buy Litepanel products; but I know that, until you realize why it has value, you won’t make that decision; so I recommend everybody to go to trade shows, like the NAB Show that you’re always at. You know, you’ve got products there, you’ve got people coming in, that can listen while they’re walking through the show, but you’re able to see and touch and have that tactile experience with gear that makes a lot more sense than just a brochure, or something on the web.
Larry Jordan: For people that want to start their research on the web, where can they go to learn more about Litepanels’ gear?
Pat Grosswendt: That would be www.litepanels.com.
Larry Jordan: Pat Grosswendt is a Co-Founder of Litepanels; their website is litepanels.com and Pat, thanks for joining us today.
Pat Grosswendt: Great to visit with you again Larry. Be well.
Larry Jordan: Stefan Karle founded DoP Choice in 2008 to create high quality, easily portable lighting tools and accessories. Based in Munich, his company has since invented snap bags, snap grids and butterfly grids; among many other tools, to shape light. Hello Stefan, welcome back.
Stefan Karle: Hello.
Larry Jordan: Stefan, tonight we’re talking about lighting; so put your cinematographer hat on for a minute. Earlier in the show, we heard Pat Grosswendt talk about lighting equipment; but, I want to focus more on how to make our lighting look as good as possible and I’ve heard the term shape light. What does this mean?
Stefan Karle: Light shaping is a way that you have the light that spreads out the light in a specific light spread. What we are doing is, we direct the light, for example, for grids, you channelize the light on portions, or areas that you want to have the light and you illuminate or stop the light on areas where you don’t want to have it. Basically, if you have an interview and you have white walls that we have a lot in Germany you want to have the light on the person, but you don’t want to have the light on the white wall in the background. Therefore, you can use the metal grids, or what you have at keynote floors, like the plastic grids, or fabric grids, to get the light channelized; or you can also use flags on stands to channelize the light and then you can create contrast between the foreground and the background.
Stefan Karle: The other thing, to shape your light, is to make the light source bigger. As we are limited in the transport, or also in the housings of the LED lighting fixtures, we want to have it compact for transport; but you want to have it big on the set. That’s why you mostly put, in the simplest way, just like a big frost frame in front of the light, to make the light source bigger; or you can also use a soft box to make the light source bigger.
Stefan Karle: The soft box has the big advantage that you are also using the side light; so the light that is spread to the side wings, to reflect it back in the front; because you’re using kind of a silver material that is intensifying this light and directs it more to the front screen. This is a more efficient way and it’s also a more practical way; because you only have one stand for light and your soft box and you can easily turn it in the direction, or move it from one place to the other. If you have a frost frame, or a gel frame, or whatever, then you always have to use two stands and it’s becoming a little bit more complicated.
Stefan Karle: Basically, this is the main kind of shaping of the light, to make the light sources bigger, to direct them in the direction that you want to have for light and to control the light.
Larry Jordan: As you were describing ways to shape the light, it sounded like I heard two basic shapes; one is a soft box, which takes a small light and makes it bigger, so it wraps around someone and the other is a grid, or an egg crate; which tends to focus the light, to keep it more directional. Is there another basic tool that we have to work with, or are those the two big groups?
Stefan Karle: Basically, these are the two big groups that you are using. For sure you also have some different ways. You can also use barn doors to shape your light and this was quite easy in the times of Fresnel light; because that was really nice to control with the barn doors; especially in the flat position spotlight. But with panel lights, which we have right now on most of the LED sources, it’s really hard to control it with barn doors; because they are simply too small. They don’t cover too much and that’s why you’re using these kind of grids, for example, to control it. Even if it’s a plastic grid, metal grid, or a fabric grid.
Larry Jordan: You raised a really interesting point. For those of us that have worked in lighting for a while, we’re used to lights with lenses in front, called Fresnels. As we’re moving to flat panel LEDS, which are great at soft diffuse lighting, what do we do if we need a hard shadow?
Stefan Karle: There are some LED lights which also have these characteristics. For example, if you look on this L-series ARRI, or Digital Sputnik, or Creamsource, they also have this characteristic of having a very parallel light and a small light source. This makes a nice shadow cast. Still the best source, if you want to have it as a big punch, is to use HMI, or a strong tungsten bulb. But we are moving more into this LED area and especially mixing conventional light with LED lights, where it’s sometimes not so easy; especially later on, in the color correction, if you want to be super precise in the skin tones and so on. This is kind of the tricky part.
Larry Jordan: One of the other challenges we face is that, many cameras today shoot in very low light. How does this change how we light a scene?
Stefan Karle: This is quite interesting and this, I think, was a big push into the light controlled devices. You need to get rid of fill light. Even if you have a little bit spill to the back from your soft box, or from your frame, or whatever, this destroys the contrast in your whole scene. You’re working much more with black fill simply just using a black solid, or a black flag, close to the actor or talent, or you try to get rid of all the fill light and also have environment from the walls and so on that is not white walls.
Stefan Karle: In Germany, many, many rooms are white, compared to the US. It is such a big difference. There, you have to be some much more controlling with fill light, or light that is just hitting a little bit on white walls; because it’s destroying the contrast in a low light scene. That’s why, to control the light, especially with the digital cameras, became much more important. The digital cameras are much more sensitive in the blacks and have more difficulties in white clipping. That’s why you put more fill light in the blacks, to get some latitude and texture in it. In the digital cameras, you just do it in a reverse way; you just try to make it even darker.
Larry Jordan: I want to talk about the products that DoP Choice makes in just a second, but I have one more question. You mention that grids are made of different substances; metal, plastic and cloth. Does the construction of the grid affect the light?
Stefan Karle: Yes and no. Basically, for example, if you have a plastic grid, it takes much more light away. You have much more material between the light emitting source; for example a tube, or LED plate, because it’s very thick this plastic. The metal grids are thinner, so they are more efficient. That’s quite a good way. The big disadvantage is, they’re getting so easily destroyed and it’s a big problem, if you have a light source that is four by four feet big, to transport this grid without any damage, from one set to another.
Stefan Karle: That’s why the fabric grids are much easier to use on set; because you can fold them together. We came up with the special tension frame; we call it the snap frame, that keeps it stretched out from the sides. There’s no belly sagging and you can fold it together, to make it very compact; so you can put it in the same case as the light. That’s why the rentals and the film people on set like it; because it’s easy to use. Working as a cinematographer, I think we have destroyed, in every film, at least two or three grids. It was good for sales, for these company, but the production was always saying, “No, no, no, why do you destroy all these grids?” Therefore, with the fabric grids, you’re saving money, especially on set.
Larry Jordan: Tell us about the products that DoP Choice makes. What do you have for us and, more importantly, how do we decide which to buy?
Stefan Karle: Basically, we have a whole range of light control devices. We have grids, like the fabric grids; we have the soft boxes; we call them the snap bags. The big advantage of all our products are that they are very simple to use, very quick to set up. We also came up with a new system; it’s called …. This enables you, for example, to put a …. On an ARRI …
Stefan Karle: What is quite hot at the moment is all the accessories for tube lights; especially within the last year. A lot of manufacturers came up with very efficient and very clever systems. We also have brilliant tubes that you can use; some of them are battery driven, so you can just put it somewhere in the set and you can control it with an app. That’s really great.
Stefan Karle: We also have devices to control them and to make them a little bit bigger with the snap bags; so you can put one up to three tubes in one snap bag. On the other hand, you also have a grid that mounts directly onto a tube; but it’s super compact. You can also use this tube just as a bag light, you can put it on a shelf and you can control it super easy and you don’t get any fill light.
Larry Jordan: For people that want to find out all the products that DoP Choice has, to help their lighting look its best, where can they go on the web?
Stefan Karle: We have product finders on our website, which is dopchoice.com. Just click on the logo of the light and you will see all the products there. In the US, you can go on directplace.com. All our US products are here.
Larry Jordan: That website is all one word, dopchoice.com and Stefan Karle founded DoP Choice and is CEO of the company and a cinematographer in his own right. Stefan, thanks for joining us today.
Stefan Karle: Thank you very much. Thank you. Have a great day.
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Larry Jordan: Jakob Ballinger is the Founder of the Light Bridge. The Light Bridge has invented not just new technology, but a new way to light. Jakob, thanks for joining us today.
Jakob Ballinger: Thanks for having me Larry.
Larry Jordan: How would you describe your new approach to lighting?
Jakob Ballinger: Actually, it’s the oldest thing in the world that we’ve basically gone back to and it seems that, in the film industry and how we’ve developed ourselves, we look forward a lot but, sometimes, it just makes sense to stop and look back. It’s basically what Cinematographer Christian Berger did 15 years ago. He said, wait a minute, I don’t like the way we’re lighting our films these days; the way the light is being presented to me for my work. What he did is, he said, I’ll go back to what I know best, is documentary, because I found light there I really liked and see how I can implement that into my feature film work.
Jakob Ballinger: What he did is, the same as Leonardo da Vinci did, he went back and really looked at nature and what does natural light do and how does it fall onto objects, flow into room and reflect off objects? That is actually the key word, it’s reflecting lights; because light itself is not visible, we only see objects that light reflects off. That’s how we perceive light. By then saying, okay, this is the way the natural flow light is, light comes from the sun, onto earth and it bounces off a mountain, let’s say, or snow, it comes into a room and bounces off the walls, off the floors.
Jakob Ballinger: Basically, the cinema effect lighting system which we’re building with the Light Bridge, is actually enhancing that; it’s saying, not only the light is coming off the ball, that actually, we can give complete control over that same quality and beautiful texture of natural light in a high definition form. High output and quality with diffused light, without the usual tools that you would need to create that on a film set.
Larry Jordan: What you have is, you have a light source which hits a reflector and the reflector is what’s lighting the scene?
Jakob Ballinger: It’s exactly that. The light source becomes the reflector itself and the way we perceive light. When, for example, we say we want a key light, we set up a light source and it comes in through a window and then we say we want fill light, so we set up a separate light source. Basically what the cinema effect lighting system is doing is, it’s saying wait a minute, actually the light that’s coming in through the room is creating a nice atmosphere; if we want fill light, we do not actually have to force a new light source into the room, we can use the natural reflection of the room and the use of the reflectors to enhance that; to actually get the values for exposure that we’re looking for.
Larry Jordan: We’ve been using bounce lights and reflectors for a long time. What makes your approach different?
Jakob Ballinger: The Egyptians have been using it already. It’s something that’s been there a long time. It took me a long time because I’d been a Gaffer for a long time before I met Christian, to suddenly see the way he perceives the light and how he then can use it to reflect it. The big difference really is to say, it’s a little bit of reverse engineering. We have a light source and then we say, oh it’s too hard, let’s soften it and then you put up a frame and then you see the light spilling all over the space. You need flags to contain that again.
Jakob Ballinger: Basically, the idea which we’ve been developing now with the Light Bridge is to reverse engineer it. Let’s take away the flags, but the light spilling all over the space is an issue. Well, actually, it’s the diffusion frame that’s giving us the issue; let’s take it away. Then we have the light source and we say, this is too hard, so if we direct the light onto a reflector that controls that diffused light, it actually gives us a really soft beautiful light source, similar to a frame and with all the flags necessary, but gives us the controlled environment. Now you can say, I want a soft beautiful light, but I do not need frames and flags to make this possible; actually, I just need one reflector to make it work.
Jakob Ballinger: That’s actually the magic behind it. It’s high technology engineering to have control over how the light reflects off something and it’s just a high glossy reflective surface that gives light off in all the kinds of directions.
Larry Jordan: I’ve had a chance to look at some of the photos on your website and some of the scenes that you light are beautiful. But what happens if you want rich shadows, or sharp shadows? This strikes me as the perfect quintessential massively large soft light.
Jakob Ballinger: It’s really a major thing actually. When you have a look at the natural flow of light, when it comes into a room, it’s not only what happens with the reflections, but it also has a lot to do with inverse square Law. With the sun, it’s the same exposure everywhere. We set up a light source, if you move towards that light source, you’re going to get hotter and hotter and hotter. With the reflector, because you’re redirecting the light source further, what happens is, you do not have this effect. You can move closer to a reflector without having the feeling you’re walking towards a light source.
Jakob Ballinger: Interestingly enough, just by being really specific and careful of the laws of nature, let’s say, the same thing happens with the shadows. We know from the history of filmmaking that you have to be careful of multiple shadows; actually, natural light has a lot of shadows within it and multiple ones as well. If you look at them, it still looks very beautiful and natural and if you look at the reflectors and what you’ve seen in the images, the same thing happens. It really has to do with the inverse square law; because the light’s travelling further and the way the reflectors are reflecting the light, you actually get really beautiful rich shadows.
Jakob Ballinger: We’ve got four different kinds of diffusions, depending which kind of diffusion reflector you use, you’re going to get crispier, harder, or softer shadows.
Larry Jordan: I had a chance to browse your website and you did a really good job of showcasing the stills of scenes from a movie and showcasing your gear. But I didn’t see anything that showed me how to use your gear. How can people learn how to use this new system of reflected light?
Jakob Ballinger: It’s really the biggest task now and in 2018, coming the first time to the States and showing the system to people. You know, I’m just an Austrian Gaffer and Christian as well, a Cinematographer, for us to go out into the world and show, look, this is what we’ve been working at and for people to like it. We got a really wonderful response to that last year, so this year is all about tutorials; making videos, going out to actually explain to people how we use it. It’s really important to me. It’s not to say, this is the way you use the system, but it’s a starting point. It’s been our 15 years of development and I’m really happy to share knowledge with everybody; for everybody to find something unique for themselves, within this new tool, for their own creative developments.
Larry Jordan: You’ve got a wide variety of products. How do I pick which one to use?
Jakob Ballinger: Well, it really depends on the production Larry. Basically what we do is, we start with seven by seven centimeters; which is the size of the palm of your hand basically, with a reflector and it goes all the way up to almost four by four feet; which is one by one meter. We’ve got seven centimeters, 15, that’s doubling the size; 25, 57 meters and one meter. From there you can do everything from really small eye light; you can hide on a table, all the way to big stuff, when you say you need to have a big reflector outside, in front of a window.
Jakob Ballinger: From there, basically we said we’d do four reflectors; to keep it at a really easy fluid way of working with them. What we have to reflect is, it’s harder than the real mirror that you would use would be diffusion number one; Black Punch. Then you go to diffusion number two, Sky Blue. You see, already, all the inspiration actually comes from nature; looking at it, seeing which aluminum reflectors we could use for this. Then we have diffusion number three, that’s ambient Violet and then you’ve got diffusion number four that’s super wide. Diffusion number four is a really soft, really great to use for beauty shots and close-ups and the reflector was inspired by snow; because the beautiful thing about snow light is that, light doesn’t only reflect off its surface, it penetrates into the snow and then comes back out again even more diffused.
Jakob Ballinger: Basically, what we found was that we could reduce exactly that effect into a really, really small little surface, where the light penetrates the first surface and comes back out again. That gives you beautiful wrap around and a soft look.
Jakob Ballinger: From the seven centimeters to the meter by meter, you can all those four diffusions; basically with the full variety and full control of diffused light and, depending on if you’re doing documentaries or feature films, obviously we’ve got a flight case, or easy carrying cases as well for that.
Larry Jordan: Where are some examples of where this system makes sense? Does it have to be a certain size set, or when you’ve got daylight? What are good examples of when you want to use this?
Jakob Ballinger: I think it’s mainly targeted for Cinematographers, who are looking for something unique and new. Also for Cinematographers that have been using reflected light a lot. What we find a lot is people saying, “Look, I’ve been using bounced light all my life” and finally there’s something actually with high efficiency and output and really made with quality. Those are basically the people that we tend to get.
Jakob Ballinger: In terms of which productions to use it at, it really can go all the way. We have Judith Benedikt; she’s a Documentary Cinematographer. She uses it a lot, because she uses a lot of natural light and it’s also wonderful with practicals to say, “Look, I just need an F stop more in the face” so you can just take the light that comes off the light bulb and extend it as well. Then it’s for big productions as well, when you are looking for quality of light and then it only makes sense to say, look I can enhance the inverse square law, I can get a new quality of shadows; but obviously, as we know, as a certain level of cinematography and visual output, it just takes a certain amount of effort to get there.
Larry Jordan: For people that want more information about the Light Bridge, where can they go on the web?
Jakob Ballinger: There’s actually three things. One is, of course, www.thelightbridge.com. You can go onto Instagram, The Light Bridge. You can go on Facebook, The Light Bridge. There, we have a big community that we share the pictures from the set basically. Those are the three main things to go to.
Larry Jordan: That website is thelightbridge.com; also The Light Bridge on Instagram and Facebook and Jakob Ballinger is the Founder of the Light Bridge. Jakob, thanks for joining us today.
Jakob Ballinger: Thank you so much for having me; it’s an honor to be on your show.
Larry Jordan: You know, I was just thinking, Pat Grosswendt said something in his interview that I once knew, but forgot recently. What I asked him what he would recommend for quick set up lighting he said that, “Everyone’s needs are different.” His best advice is to borrow, or rent the gear you’re thinking of buying; to see if it works in your situation.
Larry Jordan: I made that mistake just a couple of months ago. I needed to buy some lighting gear for interviews. I researched the web and found a three light kit that featured color tunable lights stored in a portable carrying case. Exactly what I needed, so I bought three of these kits. Once they arrived, however, I discovered that these lights had very low light output; they would be good at filling in an existing scene, but nowhere near bright enough to light an interview. If I had simply rented one of these kits for a day, I would have discovered this instantly. Now, I have to live with a very expensive mistake.
Larry Jordan: All too often, we think that we can learn everything we need to know by reading about it on the web. While the web is an unparalleled research opportunity, it can’t convey how something will actually work in real life. It’s frustrating to order something, only to discover that the reality doesn’t live up to our expectations; even if the website was absolutely correct. This is what makes retail stores and trade shows like the NAB so valuable; they give us the opportunity to get our hands on production gear in person, to see if it meets our needs. Even better, at a show like NAB, you can talk one-on-one with the people who actually invented the gear; to make sure that it can do what you see in your imagination.
Larry Jordan: For me, I’m back in the market for more lights that I can use for interviews. Just something I’m thinking about.
Larry Jordan: I want to thank our guests this week. Jonathan Toomey with the 2019 NAB Show; Pat Grosswendt with Litepanels; Stefan Karle with DoP Choice; Jakob Ballinger with the Light Bridge and James DeRuvo with doddlenews.com. There’s a lot of history in our industry and it’s all posted to our website, at digitalproductionbuzz.com. Here you’ll find thousands of interviews, all online and all available to you today. Remember to sign up for our free weekly show newsletter that comes out every Saturday morning.
Larry Jordan: Talk with us on Twitter @DPBuZZ and Facebook at digitalproductionbuzz.com. Our theme music is composed by Nathan Dugi-Turner; with additional music provided by smartsound.com. Our Producer is Debbie Price. My name is Larry Jordan and thanks for listening to the Digital Production Buzz.
Larry Jordan: The Digital Production Buzz is copyright 2019 by Thalo LLC.